Leo Tolstoy‘s Anna Karenina has changed readers’ lives for generations, but for one man in particular, the epic novel saved his life. Over at NPR, we learn the story of Mohamed Barud, a man who was sentenced to life in prison in Somalia for complaining about the conditions at the local hospital. During the years of his imprisonment, he exchanged knocks on the wall with an inmate in the next cell, creating a code for each letter of the alphabet. And, in this way, Barud read the entirety of Anna Karenina to the prisoner next door. “”[Barud] says it didn’t matter how different their lives seemed. This 19th-century Russian noblewoman seemed to be suffering exactly as he was. An honest suffering drives her into a state that Mohamed most feared for himself. Anna throws herself under a train and regrets it at the last moment. ‘I really cried. I felt for her.'”
Not sure why Harry Potter shares the fruits of his heroism? Upset that Hermione doesn’t end up with tons of cash? Well, then you should sit down with Ayn Rand’s version of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, helpfully published at The Toast by Mallory Ortberg.
Why would anyone write a book anonymously? Maria Bustillos ponders anonymity at The New Yorker. “Anonymous is more than a pseudonym. It is a stark declaration of intent: a wall explicitly thrown up, not only between writer and reader, but between the writer’s work and his life.”